Nestled about 25 miles north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan is the small four-square-mile community of Port Washington. As with any small city, Port Washington, with its 11,000 people, has its own unique history and may be best known as once being
home to Paramount Records. It is also home to the largest collection of pre Civil War buildings in the state.
But to maritime historians, the city is known for its lighthouses. One of those, the Port Washington Lighthouse today is home to a first class museum, and the other is one of the few art-deco style lighthouse towers built in the United States. Although the 1889 Port Washington North Pierhead Lighthouse is long gone, its history is intertwined with the history of the other two still standing lighthouses and with the community where the lighthouse keepers and their families once lived, shopped, and shared their lives with others in the community.
The pages of the book Port Washington, compiled by Richard D. Smith and the Port Washington Historical Society, are not meant to be an in-depth history of the community, but rather a photographic history of the city, and this has been done extremely well.
Although the era of the lighthouse keeper is long gone, as are the days when Port Washington was a commercial port, the city is still alive and well. But its photographic history is what intrigues me the most. Shown in the pages of the book are scenes of ships, businesses, and other places that the lighthouse keepers of yesteryear and their families saw and witnessed first hand. Also shown are images of the two no longer standing lighthouses and the Port Washington Lighthouse when it stood headless. Its new lantern room was paid for by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which is a story unto itself.
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, which may be why Arcadia Publishing, through its Images of America series of books, is so successful. I’d highly recommend Port Washington to anyone with an interest in the history of Wisconsin, the Great Lakes, and of course lighthouses. After you get your copy and look at the photos and let your mind drift back in time to the days of the lighthouse keepers, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
To learn more about other historical books from Arcadia Publishing or to purchase your copy of Port Washington, you can go to their web site at www.ArcadiaPublishing.com or call them at 1-888-313-2665.
This story appeared in the
Jul/Aug 2011 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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